Wednesday, December 25, 2013

the Best Christmas Gift

But first a little back story : Sally's results came back lousy ... really lousy - liver values off the charts (numbers in the THOUSANDS that should have been in the tens kind of lousy); positive for Lyme disease; and extreme pancreas numbers too ....pretty shocking she was able to stand let alone eat anything. Such a Sally thing to be so stoic ... so silly!



I promised her a long long time ago that she would never have anything painfully invasive done if there was no point and that as best as I was able she would never be left at a vets overnight. So with this broad ranging, difficult no matter how you looked at it medley of issues I kept her home and started networking for ultrasound possibilities.  I went back to square one with meals, tiny frequent home prepared food - chicken, fish and sweet potato. She had anti-nausea, pain and antibiotic medications. She would be fevered, then frozen. She was eating because I asked her to  not because of any desire. I found myself staring at her for hours wishing my magic wand worked better. She slept and slept. Ignored everything.

Then we had a three day power failure. She was still critically ill but thanks to the awesome Big T and a great wood stove we kept her warm and fed. 


We spent much of yesterday away from home helping people de-ice as best as we could. We got home and Sally was up. Barking. She brought me chunks of ice to throw. She PLAYED with Dora and Yen.  This morning she mooched at our Christmas breakfast. They were ecstatic; we are beyond happy.  

She's not one hundred percent, in fact I am worried about saying she's out of the woods even but there is hope in the house again. Joy has returned in one Sally shaped package and for that we are so very very grateful.

Have a great holiday doing what floats your boat; cherish memories and love the ones you are with! Peace!

Friday, December 20, 2013

sleep baby sleep ....

pain meds, antibiotics and home cooking the order of the day here


nurse maid Yen rarely leaves Sally's side by choice


trying to find someone who can do an ultrasound



waiting for more results


staring at Sally longing for her to be ok - wishing so badly for a magic wand


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This. I. Hate.





Sally is sick.

Think good thoughts. She was terribly ill Friday - but it seemed to be a typical, if a little severe, "episode". She seemed quite recovered today - bright, wagging, counter surfing, eating but tonight whatever has flared right back up again. Episodes don't happen in this pattern - or at least never had until now. 



Monday, December 16, 2013

Do you have what it takes?

You want to go far in your chosen sport?

No weekend warrior stuff for you?


Top of the game is your goal?




You are going to need deep pockets (or generous sponsors), lots of time and talent (as well as talented partners in both horse and dog sport land). But without character, work ethic and soundness - ideally in both of you - you might as well stay home and play for fun. Not that I think there is anything wrong with that - it's what I aspire to after all!


Actually understanding your team's character, work ethic and soundness will make even occasional competing and training much more enjoyable for the human partner. (I can but hope, by default, for the animal partner as well.)


More thinking ... I know... apologies



Character


That magical combination of traits and personality that can create a winning team. Or perhaps that magical combo that doesn't quite have what it takes. Tough to realize one of you, or both doesn't have the resilience or ability to work through stress that is needed for the level you aspire to but perhaps better to give it due consideration now and adjust the plan? Find a new definition of success and accomplishment and you may feel better about yourself and have just as much fun.




Work Ethic 


Some of us < cough > Sally < cough > have work ethics that are nothing short of cuckoo admirable. Sore, distracted, unhappy, hungry, thirsty? No problem - the work itself is so intrinsically rewarding that the passion to do it runs rampant. Others of us, and yes I'm looking in a mirror here, are much less motivated. It's too cold. There is other work to do.  The trial is in a month or perhaps not even booked yet. Whatever the excuse, things get in the way of the actual work that needs to be done to get where goals were set. Without two partners who want to play work getting ahead is going to be tough. Work Ethic is nearly impossible to learn.




Soundness 


Physical of course but also mental - how much stress can your partner take? how much stress can you revel in? If you aren't as sound s absolutely possible reaching for the top is likely to be stressful and frustrating. 


A sound body is so important. If you can't keep each other sound enough for local one day competitions it seems implausible that adding major travel and extra days of showing are going to be easy. What are you doing to maintain soundness now? If you are playing in class weekly. trialing every other weekend and need monthly chiro, medication and BoT to stay sound how many more options are there to add to the toolkit to continue maintenance as the demands get more intense? 






As we enter the season of goal setting have fun setting your goals, and looking back at your accomplishments but give due consideration to character, work ethic and soundness.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Yay Camera!

Did I mention that the terror terrier puppies ate the button that takes pictures off the new camera?

They did.

(Why does anybody live with house puppies?)


Well the camera is back in business - YAY! Just played a little with it last night ...

puppy loves to chew



old dog loves to sleep 


Kitty doesn't love winter



Fire helps us all get through the cold

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Virtues matter more than you might think ....

Today is a blog day !


Yay -it  means there will be lots of good reading and that's always fun for me. READ THEM ALL: HERE!

This topic is the "mental game" something addressed many times in this blog- search the word "mental" and you'll get a list. Or scroll all the way down to the keyword and click on motivation for a few more. If you want Sally's philosophy and elements for her work ethic you can click here too!

Recently the question of ring nerves came up which forced me to reflect on my lack of them.
Is it that I don't care? No, I care very much about my chosen sports.

Why then can I stand on a start line at Nationals between top competitors who travel globally and do my job without feeling ill? Why can I take a horse into a clinic or show ring and ride just like at home? (In the interest of full disclosure let me admit here that often I find thinking about clinics more  stressful than showing or being at a clinic.) A few things influence this perspective.

Practice
I practice. I practice with pressure. I visualize the show set up and practice while that is in my head. I practice when I have a cold, when I am mad, when I am emotional.  I also practice for fun because I want to and because I enjoy it!
Practice is something I embrace.


Breathe 
I can breathe because I simply wouldn't be there if I didn't know I was capable of doing "it". I may have very different goals than the other people there but I know my goals are in reach. (My goal could be as simple as a start line stay -actually I love it when the goal is that simple and early - makes the rest of the course a breeze!). I can breathe because I know my dogs are fit and healthy enough to do the job - if I had doubts about their condition I would have investigated and made an informed choice about running (or not - and I've made that choice many times).

doing my thing no matter the audience

It's not personal 
What's the point of nerves? The only person it's personal to is me. Nobody else particularly cares if that event doesn't go the way I had planned. People might feel badly for me for a minute or chuckle for a day. But, honestly, if I show with integrity and a sense of fun even if there is a problem on course that people notice they leave me in my happy bubble noting the good out loud and the things to work on on my course maps. They don't even have to know I make notes on my course maps because at the risk of repeating myself it isn't about them ... and they really don't mind if things don't go quite the way I planned.

Patience
This is the single biggest thing I wanted to focus on today.

Patience allows people to know that any competitive event is just one moment. It gives  information for the next event. By being patient in training, in the development of understanding of the sport, in the work with youngsters and those who have moments of confusion, in taking the time to appreciate each stage of training and competition you are able to be patient in the ring. The building blocks of success will come if you can wait.

You might be thinking to yourself, "I am the least patient person on the planet, how can I do this?" Believe me, patience did not come naturally or easily to me. It is a learned skill. One that I began to appreciate as I began to be grateful for so much else in my life. Watch a plant grow. Rehearse counting to 10 before you do something  (anything - I did this waiting to start my car)... teach yourself patience. The rewards are truly immeasurable.

Think then act and avoid reaction as much as possible. If ring stress hits you you will have plenty of experience to draw upon. Count to 10, picture your plant growing, breathe, refocus - perhaps by thinking about your goal for that moment and grabbing the intention that put you in that place at that moment.

I was at a clinic with a young horse last weekend. The clinician paid me an enormous compliment when she noted that my building blocks were solid and being at the clinic didn't change my expectations for that ride. It didn't change the way I rode, it didn't alter the work I wanted to accomplish. Quite literally my only goal was to have a good first off property experience with the baby. After one lap of the ring I had accomplished that. My patient perspective allowed us to have a lot of fun for 45 mins - trying new things and soaking up the clinicians expertise. It would have been easy to push for too much; to be too embarrassed to say  I'm just here to get off  the farm; to pretend the mare was further along than she was. Any of those things would have resulted in a nerve wracking experience even if all had gone well.

Patience is a virtue we in sports land must learn to exploit for our own benefit!


good good Maggi 




For more mental management thoughts and very practical advise you should invest in a handy little ebook "Trials Without Tribulations"

you can order it HERE.

and don't forget BLOG DAY - READ THEM ALL: HERE!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

baby it's cold outside ....

Brody is on my feet. Dora (yes she's still here) is on my hip. The heat is on full force and I'm wondering if I can hibernate until April. I have never loved winter (being a weather weenie and all) but this is the first year I've understood the snow birds at all. I think I'd skip it if possible.  The dogs largely seem to be in agreement. They run out grab a frozen apple and race back to the house to eat it on the couch. 

Pulled out the scent jar on Friday to introduce the game  to Dora -Sally, Brody and Yen were all very insistent they get a turn. Hid the scent on Sally in some weird places -she nailed every single search. Such fun.

The skinny horse continues to improve. He's hosting a Christmas Party to thank his Team.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

shocking this ...

Little boy puppy (Renegade) is now placed in the bestest most fabulous home ever!

Big T wants to keep the little girl  and has named her Dora

I had never never thought of living with a terrier (terriers were for my folks -much loved to visit - always welcomed and enjoyed for holidays here but always going home!) but I have to say little shy Dora is rapidly growing on me.

Our house is rapidly heading towards occupancy - looks like Christmas will be there!

Rotten puppies ate the button off my camera that takes pictures (oh the hidden costs of fostering) so videos are possible - photos aren't at the moment but I'm working on it!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Foster terriers



looks cute eh?


Sally is THRILLED


Puppies are fun

and quite good looking too! /Cairn terrier fox terrier mixes this brindle pair is so so ready for homes of their own!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”

It is fun to be young. Fearless, foolish and invincible. All hold their attractions. 

But there is a certain wonder in maturity too.  It's DaBAD day - and this time the topic is aging! Dogs, People whatever we wanted ! My bet is there will be lots of great ideas and thoughts on this - click  RIGHT HERE  to go to the page our fearless Steve will be updating through the day!

Within  seven years of agility blog entries I have both seen my canine partners age and gotten a little older myself. (Hey a girl can dream right?).

I have reflected on Brody's aging here  (way back in 2009) and Sally's recent episodes have driven home the fact she is no longer anything but middle aged. Brody is over 13, Thea is 10 and Sally is 7.  I am much more than the combined total of all of them. And yet we all have fun. In fact I truly believe that, episodes aside, we are actually in better shape than we were when the blog started. 



Why? 

We 

are fitter - the foray into competitive agility has fueled a thoughtful, organised approach to being fit - farm 'gility, hill work, a little obedience, fartleks, road walks  all help the dogs, add in riding horses and bikes for me and we have it pretty well covered!

cross train both our fitness (see above) and our brains; learning scent work, meeting horses has all been great for the dogs of all ages, working outside of my normal gig (and outside) has been wonderful for me and I think the dogs have benefited too 

eat better, less processed food  - the dogs currently eat a limited ingredient kibble with home sourced enrichment  (our organic apples and tomatoes are real hits with everybody - Sally gets our fresh laid eggs twice a week). I think about adding supplements and would (and have) if there was need but generally we are (touch wood) in good health. I am feeding Brody carrots quite often  in the hopes that the wives tales about them being good for sight are true    because he loves them. 

spend more time together so it's easier to notice little things and treat them -  and of course we've had seven more years together so we all know each other that much better too ... so lucky! With my leave from work it's unusual for the dogs to be alone more than 4 hours in a day. 

train in brief meaningful doses - we used to go to classes once a week and that was wonderful for being social and for exposure to new things - but the power of short doses of targeted training is so evident. If we want we can work on something 4 times in a day. Readers of this blog know I am a big believer in short sweet training sessions. I think as we all age this becomes even more important.



The benefits of loving and playing with aging partners can't be overstated. I wish we had longer to love and cherish our canine friends in each stage but the aged stage is mighty special!


Aging can be fun if you lay back and enjoy it.
Clint Eastwood 

No one can avoid aging, but aging productively is something else.
Katharine Graham 

I'm a really happy person, I enjoy life. I think you see that on people. I think there's nothing more aging than misery.
Michelle Pfeiffer 

That Dawg is BACK!


We actually threw a stick for her twice yesterday. (She,of course, has been suggesting this was a GOOD idea since she was able to stand evenly on all 4 legs - and doubtlessly would have gotten the stick had I thrown it after carrying her outside).

This dawg is a whole lotta dog. Sometimes I forget.


This wild child is just nuts.11 months here already (where does time go?) and yesterday she jumped out of the kitchen window at the new house. And fell to the ground below with a pretty loud thud for such a wee thing. Luckily it is soft sand. Memories of Sally nonsense for sure with Yen!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

sometimes you just gotta cry

I am not a crier. Certainly not in public. Not even in my house. Occasionally in my car but that's it unless they are tears of rage.

This week I keep tearing up. Sad tears.

I have a very very happy low stress life at the moment so the tears are aggravating me even as they make sense.

It might just be a week of endings .... and I can't wrap my head around either potential one.


Spot On is holding it's last agility trial on Saturday and my heart is breaking just a little bit .... nah, a whole lot. Many happy memories, much learning, and lots of fun on the hill for me. All the dogs love the hill too, Taking great sadness and turning it to tragedy is the fact that Sally can't walk at the moment - so running agility in four days seems entirely unlikely. To not be participating is heart breaking. To see Sally so sore I am carrying her outside is killing me.


Just a blip on the map but a pretty sad blip right now no doubt.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The back door ...

There are many ways to tackle an issue
A straightforward, head on approach is my normal mode when dealing with people but I have come to realize more and more that with animals sometimes using the back door is much more effective.

By that I mean working on training problems indirectly can lead to faster better results than pounding away at an issue.

Let's take Thea as an example


Thea was occasionally afraid of most agility equipment - I was encouraged to lure her over and through way too much. (oh the price our early dogs pay for our errors). Until I found her back door I pretty much resigned myself to doing jumpers only - she might be afraid of a chute or a tunnel or a dog walk at seemingly random times. Then I found her back door - do things she is successful at, rev her to the moon, do the things she is good interspersed with the things that might make her leery ...   we got our teeter back, dog walk no issue, tunnels are never anything but fun now ....  if she even looks sideways at something in training - quick quick where's an aframe? then scary thing ... zooooooooooooom ... she's forgotten to be afraid ... we no longer do teeters in public as she's had too many flyoffs for me to think they are safe for her but otherwise apart from the odd dark chute the world is her oyster


Yen is, umm, a little excitable. She is loud and proud and full of life. If ever I thought there was a small dog that would never be loose around horses it was her. Last night we walked out to a field at the barn I'm teaching at and she came with us - puttered in the field while I taught. She had a great time - so did miss pony pants and so did I. We got there not by forcing her to be quiet and still around the horses but by letting her run far enough away that the horses paid her no mind. Horses were never exciting to her. She also had plenty of opportunities to practice her truly rocket recall with horses quite far away so when they were closer it didn't occur to her to not come.  She was truly perfect yesterday.


This is Harri (aka DUDE). When Harri arrived at the barn he couldn't be cross-tied. He couldn't be held for the blacksmith and he was quite hysterical. Rather than fighting with 1200 + pounds of horse I simply brought him into the barn every day, stood him in the spot I wanted to cross-tie him in momentarily and put him in a stall (also a source of stress). I'd putter away with a horse who enjoyed being cross tied and love on them occasionally walking over to pat Harri. I groomed him loose in the stall and was amazed at how quickly he started to settle and not walk away. Within two weeks he was quite content to cross-tie while I fussed away with him. The blacksmith is stunned by how calm he is every time he sees him (he had seen him prior to being at our barn). The other day I untacked Harri and left him in the cross tie spot forgetting to put a halter on him while I went in and out of various tack rooms. He had no reason to stand except habit and wanting more TLC. He stood like a super trooper.

Back door solutions sometimes just happen, sometimes they require a plan but they are always worth considering in a problem solving approach. (On reflection I probably use this approach with people too)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

being responsible sucks sometimes....

I was SO excited last week.

I was going to have REAL agility to blog about tonight.

We were going to a trial -the girls and me - cruising down the road to our favourite venue and having a ball. Sally had 5 classes to play in - standards and jumpers and steeplechase. It was going to be fun. SO. MUCH. FUN. We've been working on our agility skills. Jumping, aframes, weaving- not everything we needed but enough that we were feeling fine. Yen was going to make an FEO debut and buzz around the ring making everybody chuckle. I was going to take pictures.

Yesterday was a very long day. I had kids at a horse show, lessons then my own riding. I snuck home mid day and took the dogs for a lovely not too long run at the farm. They ran and swam and had a great time. No big jumps, sudden yips or refusals to load into car. Everybody seemed happy. Left them to nap their run away and got back in time for another quick run. Sally got up stiff and WALKED out the door. Sally really doesn't walk anywhere unless on leash. Hmmm perhaps she was stiff. She sort of, kind of, walked out of it but then her right hind leg started taking little dotty steps - she wasn't LAME but she was far from right.

Could I have run her?  I'm going to say yes. I am quite sure that the adrenal rush of being in one of her favourite places doing her favourite thing would have had her looking sound as a bell. She still isn't sound tonight (we won't discuss what she thinks of being on leash at the farm). She isn't any worse but she is still slightly quicker across that hind leg and not even in her stride.

Did I likely make the right call for the long term? Of course. Would Sally have made the same call? I doubt it. No, there is no doubt - she would have run her heart out and her legs off.  So sad to be the adult today.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Down is Out

The AAC board just passed a new rule for tables - that any position works. No more downs required.
The table is only in starters and advanced standard but it is certainly a difficult obstacle for many. It is a control spot - the dogs have to steady slow down and think. I have had my share of table issues with both Brody and Sally - Thea has never been asked to do one in a trial setting as her body is not designed to allow her elbows and chest to be on the table at once - and I suspected a judge would crowd her to see if she was down or not. (The fact she is no longer asked to do strange teeters due to flyoffs and she doesn't weave very well has quite a bit to do with her not running in standard classes too.)


Does it bother me to not run Thea in standard classes at AAC? Nope. Not at all. Working very slowly on our CPE level one point title has been a blast. I keep thinking I should teach her to weave a little bit better - she'd probably love steeplechase! Playing in other classes - jumpers, gamblers, snookers- is tons of fun - she rarely trials but when we both enjoy it/ Do I think AAC should change for tiny dogs? Honestly? No. I knew the rules when I got Thea her number, I knew it wasn't the ideal association  for her (mainly due to very long chutes back then and teeters) but I knew we'd have fun playing in it occasionally. And we have.

When Brody first started in AAC the rules had recently changed - more standards at Starters and Advanced were needed and I can clearly recall the complaining about having to do more tables. Brody  missed the odd standard Q, a couple thanks to sliding off the table when we hit it full speed, once because he wouldn't do a down on a table that turned out to be quite hot and a few other glitches. I certainly didn't mind saying goodbye to the table as we headed into Master land but I appreciated the challenge of the table in the same breath.

Sally brought a whole new level of challenge to table work. Her desire to PLAY agility made the table frustrating for her. She will down and slowly lift up and then go down again. She will bark her frustration at having to stop sometimes. But working on table has been a great game for us. She can slam into a down on a wobbly picnic table with little issue at home. Table is fun! When Sally worries there hasn't been enough agility she jumps up on a table and stares at me from a down. She has a deep build that makes a full down tough sometimes - I have, truth be told, wished she had hairy elbows more than once. But, it never occurred to me that she might not have to "earn" the same advanced standard qs as Brody did to advance to masters level. I'm not sure I like it. She didn't have to earn a team q to progress either.

Rules for safety make sense to me. Changing rules because you are listening to members is a good way to grow an organization but I am sorry Sally hasn't had the chance to run more advanced standard classes in the past year (umm none since her Q in the fall) and earn her way into masters with the lovely down I know she knows. Yes of course I could and may still ask for the down but somehow the table changes with this.
I so  hope this isn't the start of dumbing down AAC agility. On one hand I hear people say the courses aren't challenging enough and see many more strange things on course maps -an on the other it's too much to ask a dog to lie on a table for 5 seconds when aroused ... [Photos aren't loading tonight - hopefully tomorrow!]


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy birthday Sunshine ...

both big T and Sally celebrate today

Sally is 7,  Big T a little older (Sally's littermates also have birthdays today of course - below you see her sister Sophie)


both are so so good for me


and to me


both keep me active, help me be positive, motivate me to do things and are just generally good souls.



It's their birthday but somehow I feel like I get to celebrate too

Sunday, June 09, 2013

We Are All Human ...ALL of us, even Susan Garret

SG posted a video of two spills Swagger had on the warm up day at Ontario East Regionals. They weren't fun to watch - in one clip he wiped out as he came blasting off the dog walk in the other he lost his footing as he took off for a jump and somersaulted through it. In both cases he jumps right up and is, as far as I can tell, ready for more. She clearly states that spills like this are why she hates doing agility in the rain. But she needs to do agility in the rain. If she's representing Canada and flown half way around the world and it's raining she has a responsibility to run. (She also has a responsibility to keep her dogs safe - and I am quite sure if she knew conditions crossed from unpleasant to unsafe she would pull them no matter where she was).



Conditions and equipment weren't unsafe in this case. They were wet and unpleasant and Swagger is a young dog who doesn't let a little something like wet grass slow him down. He may have learned a valuable lesson about how to keep his balance on Friday. I am sure SG will be doing more rain work with him this summer too.  SG is an athlete who knows her dogs are athletes. She keeps herself in good shape, working with a trainer, paying attention to what she eats. She does the same for her dogs. 



She is NOT a weekend warrior who only runs in the rain if she paid an entry fee. Her dogs work in all conditions, on varied surfaces and they need to. Should she have pulled Swagger? No more than any other dog there should have been pulled, perhaps much less than many should have been. I wasn't there. I was an hour away thinking "Yuck today is gross I am glad I am not playing agility today". The trial hosts have lots of experience with agility and I haven't heard a whisper that they thought about stopping the event. 


Were there other dogs there that maybe should have been pulled? I'm going out on a limb here and guessing yes - there were probably dogs running there who shouldn't have been running no matter the weather conditions. Urban dictionary suggests a weekend warrior is "a person who holds a regular job during the week which restricts their ability to party/go on trips/partake in awesome activities, and thus plans epic weekend adventures to compensate."  in terms of agility I worry that weekend warrior dogs go to class/training once a week and get leashed walks once or twice a day with little opportunity to truly build fitness or muscle memory for the obstacles we expect them to do.


 It's pretty hard emotionally to withdraw from any competition. You've paid your entry (not cheap for our sport), changed your schedule, perhaps traveled a long distance and then you realize  you shouldn't be there. Peer pressure is likely going to come into play. I have heard people say "she doesn't look that bad" and "maybe he'll work out of it"  to people with a sore dog. Nobody wants to be the one to say "Why would you run that dog now? You may do irreparable damage if you do". Being negative is no fun. We have huge demands placed on us to "suck it up" "be tough" and "get the job done".  Pulling out runs counter to all of those things. Last year when I had to withdraw from Regionals to work I felt enormous pressure to do it all somehow  - and that was actually physically impossible!


I totally get why people want to play - and I think they should play. I also believe that they should not cast stones without a good  hard look in the mirror.  There is a very big difference in asking "Why didn't you pull your dog?" and "You have completely lost my respect" (just one of a slew of frankly hostile comments on the SG video). We are all human. SG made the same choice everyone else did on Friday. Swagger fell, twice. With games and sports comes risk. Would I be terribly upset if it had been my dog? Yes. Was SG upset? It sure seems she was. Was Swagger upset? Not so much - he won the gambler's class yesterday and was second in standard. I have every confidence that SG will get him the best care and work out a solid plan of action to help him recover from any trauma (physical or mental) he may have suffered and learn to deal with varied conditions better. While she may be sorry she posted the video I am glad she did. It's provoked conversation and thinking - and perhaps more weekend warriors will actually think and withdraw from events when it's in their and their dog's best interest, rather than simply tell other people what to do when they aren't even present!

Sure hope Swagger and SG are ok!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

when it goes south ...

Do you yell? Go deathly quiet? Cry? Laugh and forget about it? Does your response ever upset you? Upset people around you? Upset your dog?

Does it depend on how badly it goes? Is how you react creating a BIG PROBLEM? (for you, others or your dog?)


Does your reaction depend on how important the thing is? By that I mean if a rule is wait until a door is open before going through it and another rule is don't counter surf - do you get more upset over whichever rule matters more to you? Or is a rule a rule?

Is an incident treated the same way no matter who is around? If dogs are not supposed to jump up on visitors is the reaction stronger if they jump on some people?

Is your approach positive or punative?

Yelling is ineffective and it also makes me feel horrible. I don't think I'm alone in that. Not yelling has a really positive impact both for you and for those around you. (Kids, spouse, dogs, whoever!)

Mistakes happen, they are a learning opportunity. Sounds so easy. So hard to truly internalize tho.


There is a woman at the barn I ride at - quite a nice rider generally - who has a terrible temper. A temper bad enough I won't let her help me bring horses in. If one of the youngsters stepped on her, or stopped and stared at something I honestly don't know what she'd do. I do know she loses any semblance of self control when things don't go according to plan. It's quite sad as she's quite a lovely person otherwise.  You have all seen the agility dogs who make a mistake and drop and cringe; perhaps leaving the field or otherwise taking action (that usually doesn't include agility). I often wonder why things going wrong upsets them so badly. I don't see handlers melt down angrily but it seems that the dogs are sensing things going wrong sometimes... or perhaps they just worry things might go wrong?

Tension, anywhere in the team, is not constructive or helpful. Challenges are one thing and pushing your team can be a huge rush but it is important to work through what you will do if things don't go according to plan. (And yes I truly do believe visualizing and expecting success is a worthwhile component to the mental game of sport!) Figure out how you are going to deal with things before you have to. That way it's much harder to provoke a reaction  that isn't intentional.

One of the nicest things I've heard lately was a comment on a dressage test about what a pleasure it was to watch Nelly and I as we were a happy team. Nice eh? I'm still glowing!

And do keep in mind the errors aren't personal. Your dog isn't trying to be BAD, or to get you, or to make you crazy - honestly! Once I really understood and internalized this my frustration level dropped.